Mike Higdon Reno Gazette Journal
Published 6:09 PM EDT Sep 27, 2018
Northern Nevada HOPES hospital in downtown Reno hopes to finish building a tiny house village for the homeless by early next year.
In early September, the Reno City Council voted unanimously to approve the new shelter village, Hope Springs, which should provide short-term housing and support services for people who live on the streets.
Village will be near another low-income housing
HOPES plans to develop and operate 30 of the 96-square-foot, fully insulated tiny houses with heat, air conditioning, power and bedroom furniture. The houses are made to the same standards and codes as other larger houses. HOPES would also operate a central facility with showers, restrooms, a kitchen and community space with a garden.
Hope Springs will be located at 250 Sage Street near another dorm project for low-income residents. The two projects will be run separately and gated from each other, likely requiring Hope Springs residents to enter from Fourth Street.
Despite criticism of the location between the Waste Management transfer station and old motels, Sharon Chamberlain, CEO of HOPES, said she thinks it’s a good spot. The location is near existing homeless shelter services and sits along the Regional Transportation Commission’s new Lincoln Line on Fourth Street, she said.
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HOPES plans to manage the village and provide case management for residents. Chamberlain said this is in line with the work they already do as a medical and psychiatric clinic.
“Health is not solely physical,” she said. “Health includes mental, spiritual, belonging to a community and so much more. We believe that an individual’s housing status and health outcomes are undeniably linked.”
People who want to live in the village will go through a screening process to determine whether they are ready to participate.
Treatment plans would be determined by residents
Chamberlain said the village’s evolution and treatment plans would be determined by the residents instead of case managers. This idea is based on experience that former HOPES case manager Lisa Lee realized provides better outcomes for homeless people.
“People know what is best for them, they are their own expert on themselves,” Lee previously told the RGJ in a profile interview. ”You tell us what you need. Do you want to end your homelessness? How long do you need to be in transitional housing? What does permanent housing look like for you?”
More: I am an American: Lisa Lee tirelessly works to house the houseless
Residents of Hope Springs would live in the houses for an average of four to six months before moving to more permanent housing, or to the Sage Street dorms. Chamberlain said housing shortages could delay people’s move out.
Village residents would also receive necessary medical care with HOPES hospital or others, behavioral health care and workforce development.
Chamberlain said her annual operation budget is $280,000, which means one person would cost about $3,100 to $6,200 per year depending on their length of stay.
“For a highly supportive program, that’s probably the most cost effective model ever,” she said. Chamberlain hopes to create a sustainable model for other cities to follow after seeing similar projects in Portland and Seattle.
Previous studies by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that a long-term homeless person costs taxpayers $30,000 to $50,000 per year in hospital, ambulance and police visits.
Reno City Council donated $100,000 for improvements to the land and $50,000 a year for three years to assist with program operations.
The first phase of development includes construction of 10 units. As funding becomes available, HOPES plans to build the other 20 units. Chamberlain said individuals or companies can sponsor houses, which could include logos or naming rights, or donate to the cause.
“We’re calling on all members of the community to contribute to this important project to help raise funds and create a resource in our city that uplifts our fellow citizens and demonstrates to the world that Reno is a place of caring, compassion and community,” according to a statement from Reno City Council Member Neoma Jardon, who helped push the council to approve this project.
Mike Higdon is the city life reporter at the RGJ and can be found on Instagram @MillennialMike, on Facebook at Mike Higdon, Reno Life and on Twitter @MikeHigdon.
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